Patent Searching

The importance of searching

Imagine you’ve invested significantly in your invention over a number of years, and filed patent applications in the UK and overseas. The product is selling well, and you’re optimistic about its future.

Then your patent attorney sends you a document brought to light in one of the patent office searches. It’s a patent owned by one of your competitors.

This patent covers your invention. Not only does it stop you from patenting your invention, it means you can’t even use the invention without infringing your competitor’s patent.

This could happen, and to minimise the possibility we recommend patent searches before you make significant investment in your invention.

Types of patent search

There are basically two types of search:

  1. Novelty (or patentability) search – this search aims to locate documents which disclose ideas similar to your invention. On the basis of this search, we can advise whether your invention is likely to be patentable.
  2. Infringement search – this search aims to locate patents (in the relevant country) which you may infringe by using your invention. On the basis of this search, we can advise on your freedom to exploit your invention. (Bear in mind that even if you obtain your own patent, you can still infringe someone else’s.)

We can arrange both these types of search, and give you practical advice on the results. We usually instruct specialist professional patent searchers who are experts in this complex field.

The limitations of patent searches

No search can be completely exhaustive, and the breadth of any search has to be balanced against the time and costs involved.

You can help make the search more effective by providing us with the names of any people or companies that you know are working in the relevant field, or referring us to any relevant documents or patents of which you are already aware.